I must preface this blog with a disclaimer that the following "How To" article is solely for your electrician. You should not attempt to wire anything yourself if you’re not a competent electrician because a faulty wiring job can lead to a fire or worse, death!
What is a Thermostat Exactly?
If you keep multiple ball pythons in a rack system, you’re going to need some method of controlling how hot the tank gets where the UTH (under tank heater) is located. We achieve this goal through the use of a thermostat. A thermostat allows you to enter how hot you’d like the area to be at the “hot spot” in the ball pythons’ cage and its job is to regulate the temperature so the hot spot will not exceed the temperature you set it at. A thermostat comes attached with a long probe that you adhere to the UTH in an effort to measure the heat generated by the UTH. If the heat reaches the maximum degree you’ve entered in either Fahrenheit or Celsius, the thermostat will turn off the power to the UTH. When the heat has dissipated some (usually by one degree or so), the thermostat turns the power back on to the UTH and continues this process over and over to achieve a constant temperature for the hot spot in each ball pythons’ cage.
There are several thermostats available on the market with different features and pricing but they pretty much all achieve the same goal, to make sure the hot spot in your ball pythons’ cage does not exceed the temperature that you specify. Some thermostats have a digital readout/configuration whereas others have a non-digital configuration wheel or knob. Some have “night time drop” modules that you can purchase to help control the environment for breeding ball pythons during the breeding season. I use the Ranco brand personally because it’s inexpensive, very reliable and does the job for me.
Wiring the Ranco ETC-111000 Thermostat
The Ranco ETC-111000 thermostat comes unassembled so your electrician will have to do the wiring to make it functional. The wiring is pretty simple actually but like I mentioned at the onset, “You should not attempt to wire anything yourself if you’re not a competent electrician because a faulty wiring job can lead to a fire or worse, death!”
Ranco ETC-111000 Thermostat
The Ranco ETC-111000 thermostat does not come pre-assembled so I’m going to walk you through, or should I say your electrician through, the steps needed to take the Ranco from something you can’t use to something that you can and will use to control the hot spot in your ball pythons’ cage.
You will need some basic tools and additional components before you begin. You need the following inexpensive items:
1. Phillips screwdriver
2. Wire cutter
3. Wire stripper
4. Small flat-head screwdriver
5. Power strip
6. 8ft or better two-prong extension cord
Wire stripper, wire cutter, Phillips screwdriver (only one needed)
Small flat-head screwdriver
Power strip and two-prong extension cord
Using your Phillips screwdriver, unscrew the four screws at each corner on top of the Ranco thermostat. They will unscrew from the Ranco but cannot be pulled out completely so you don’t have to worry about losing or misplacing them. Once you take the top off the Ranco, you’ll notice a lot of circuitry but don’t be alarmed because you’ll see how simple it will be to wire it up and if you can turn a flat-head screwdriver, you can wire a Ranco thermostat.
Inside the Ranco thermostat
The only areas in the thermostat that we need to concern ourselves with are outlined in the photo below:
Work area inside the Ranco thermostat
Before we start wiring the Ranco, we need to prepare the power strip and extension cord. Cut off the female end (not the male end that plugs into the wall) of the two-prong extension cord using your wire cutter. Next, cut off a four-inch piece of the extension cord because we’ll need this piece a bit later. Using your wire stripper, strip about an inch or so of the plastic to expose the wire, separate the two adhered halves about seven or so inches and twist the tips of the exposed wires. Your extension cord should look like this:
Extension cord ready for the Ranco
Separate the four-inch piece of extension cord you cut, strip and twist the ends. Your four-inch piece of extension cord should look like this:
Four-inch piece of extension cord ready for the Ranco
Cut the male end off the power strip and remove the top three inches of the plastic surrounding the three inner wires. Strip off an inch or so from the white and black wires and twist them when you’re done. We’re not going to use the green wire so cut that back flush as far as you can. Your power strip should now look like this:
Power strip ready for the Ranco
Connect and twist any one of the two wires on the extension cord with the white colored wire on your power strip. The two attached wires should look like this:
Power strip and extension cord connected
Before you begin wiring the Ranco thermostat, make sure you place the wires through the open end of the Ranco.
Ranco opening for wires
Using your flat-head screwdriver, loosen the screw at the top right by turning it counter-clockwise. Like the screws on top of the Ranco, these screws will not come out but you will meet resistance. Stop unscrewing when you meet resistance and can’t unscrew any further.
First screw to unscrew in the Ranco
Next, using the extension cord and power strip wires that you combined by twisting them together, push the combined twisted wires into the hole at the very bottom of the screw you just unscrewed. Continuously push the wire into the hole as you tighten up the screw by turning the screw clockwise. Once you’ve met resistance and can’t screw any further, pull on the wire gently to make sure it’s secured in the hole by the screw.
First wire connection in the Ranco
Next, connect and twist the four-inch piece of wire with the remaining exposed wire on your extension cord. Unscrew the screw to the left of the screw you just tightened, push the connected wire from the four-inch piece and your extension cord into the hole, tighten by turning clockwise and check it like you did with the first hole to make sure it's secured in place. Your Ranco should look like this now:
Second wire connection in the Ranco
We’re almost at the finish line now but we do have two more wires that we have to install before we can celebrate victory. The hole on the very left is not needed so we can consider victory for this area of the Ranco and now focus our attention to the bottom area or the area closest to you.
Take the exposed end of the four-inch piece of wire and plug it into the hole at the very right of the bottom section and tighten it like you did with the other wires. Your Ranco should look like this now:
Third wire connection in the Ranco
Take the very last black wire from the power strip and push it into the hole to the left of the one you just installed the four-inch piece of wire in and tighten it securely. Your finished Ranco wiring should look like this:
Fourth and final wire connection in the Ranco
Congratulations, you’ve just wired your Ranco thermostat! Before placing the top back on, check the wires again to make sure they’re secured tightly by the screws and that no exposed wires are touching each other (unless they were wires that we twisted together). If that checks out okay, put the top back on and tighten the screws back to secure the top in place.
Plug the Ranco thermostat into the wall using the male end of your extension cord and it should show you the current room temperature after it completes its power-on diagnostics after a few seconds. Set the desired heat you’d like your hot area to be, place and secure the probe to the heat tape or UTH, plug the heat tape or UTH into the power strip and Walla, you’re done!
Fully functional Ranco ETC-111000 thermostat
The following video was created by ShaneTheBarRoomHero on YouTube. He was kind enough to create a video-guide based based on the instructions above. Thanks Shane!
Care to discuss this topic in greater depth? Post your questions or comments in our ball python forum. Hope to see you there soon! :)
I would assume then that for a single UTH, I could just wire up the UTH in lieu of the strip.
The better approach is to have seperate TV and VCR units that are connected via detachable cabling. If either one fails you can replace the offending unit without losing the usage of the other unit. The same applies to using a strip in our example. The power strip removes the hard-wired connection as outlined in the previous examples.
Please start a thread in the "DIY - Do it Yourself" section of our forum at http://www.RCReptiles.com/forum if you'd like to discuss this further with our members. Thanks.
I really appreciate your time in answering these questions.
I currently use a dimmer switch and moniter the substrate temp with an infra red thermometer. I would like to set up a thermostat so I can set it and not worry about it as much.
I guess my question is: I understand the flexibilty, but isn't there only one temp probe anyways?
Thanks for your answers to my questions.
I bought and wired one up today using an extension cord with a ground wire based on Ryan's earlier comments.
The only problem I had was the gauge on the extension cord was too thick and I had to thin it out a little.
I hooked up the power strip even though I only have one tank and UTH...I may plug the CHE into it as well so it doesn't run so hot.
I am just finishing up my new tank. My BP is at the size where his 20 gal is getting a little crowded and I have been having issues wih heating and humidity because it's a glass tank. I bought a 60 gal (I know...it's a little on the large size), but I figure he will be in it for the next 20 years and I'll have lots of clutter and maybe add a third hide. This tank is also glass, but I've enclosed it with wood except for the glass front. This should take care of my heat/humidity issues...and it looks great.
I'll send some pictures when done.
Can i use this thermomstat without relays which are not readily available in my country?
I am wisdom ,a student from Ghana in West Africa.
Also by setting the temperature on the termostat can I control a small heater located in an other location with the 8'feet sensor? (The thermostat will be located in a different location and and the sensor will trasmit the temperature).
I just bought this model of Ranco and I would like to install it to my cooler. I am situated in Iceland (Europe) so I will do the wiring according to a 240V. But I read somewhere that the information in the brochure to wire a 240V cord is not for users in Europe (because one end is hot and the other is neutral) ???
Have you heard of this ?
Those that used the 3 prong (grounded cord), how did you wire that? did you just fill the 3 slot instead of the 2 slots??
for example you connected (3 prong) ex-cord and power strip cords x 2 (slots 1 & 2) then ex-cord and 4 inch x1 (slot 3)
is this correct??
You said to twist either wire from the extension cord to the white wire from the power strip. This could create a hazard. The ribbed side of the extension cord is connected to the larger of the two blades on its male plug. This is the neutral side and must be connected to the white wire. If it is reversed the "hot" wire from the plug would be connected to the neutral from the power strip. If a two prong device is plugged in which has a housing grounded through the neutral, this housing would now be energized and could electrocute someone.
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